It's OK to watch the masters, but keeping up with the kids keeps the industry on its toes. Anna Sui is one designer who can take the goofiest downtown look and turn it into a saleable line. She's wise beyond her years.
This year, she went to the Wee Kirk in the Vale rectory jumble sale and updated the old WASPY castoffs -- madras bermudas, McMullen linen shifts, Villager blouses and chino separates. She even enlarged and twisted some Pucci prints into a hip new shapes. She pumped up the colors and the patterns and yo! a sort of suburban chic is born. Shown on supermodels and Smashing Pumpkin James Iha, they become clothes for young downtowners with a disposable income. The ones on an tight allowance pick their own glad rags.
Even though Linda Allard's designs for Ellen Tracy are not exactly cutting edge, the show moved to the current beat with creative styling that could be a lesson for every woman who is conscious of keeping up with the trends without looking like a fashion victim.
She showed cropped jackets, and even cropped knit camisoles, but the peek of flesh was so discreet as to be almost office innocent. She dropped the waist a little lower, suggesting the hipster look with low-riding chain belts instead of big expanses of belly. A series of black silk crepe skirts was an eloquent vote for the elegance of an ankle-length line.
Big Barbie hair styled up by Sam McKnight proved that sexiness is all in the head, and glamour can be tailored in apricot silk shantung.
The Anne Klein label can stop its search for a designer. Young Patrick Robinson did the house proud in his second collection. He's given Anne Klein back to the career customer with comfortably tailored separates in career-correct cuts in pinstripes, twills, substantial knits and tropical weight khaki. If he didn't set off any fireworks, he's working smarter than Richard Tyler, who was fired for taking Anne Klein too fast and too far into the Hollywood Hills.
Robinson's design training at Armani shows in the muted palette he chose in a season when every other designer is breaking out in riots of color.
His finale of ruffles and delicious party dresses shows he can have fun, all he needs is a vote of approval and a significant ring at the sales counter.
The fashionista who rated Ralph Lauren's collection "impeccable but dull" should be sentenced to a lifetime of shopping Contempo Casuals just to see how long plastic hot pants and a scratchy bra can be endured.
The Lauren collection was rich, sleek and totally wearable with suits reduced to sculpture uninterrupted by buttons or furbellows. He gave women who believe navy and white are forever springtime a choice of shapes and fabrics. For the more adventurous, he cut dresses in black and scuba-suit neon. Gala-goers got impeccably finished column gowns and elegant white tuxedos.
Even though the show was late starting, a minion was dispatched to pick lint off the stage scrim. That kind of attention to detail builds a reputation.
Designers, like novelists, often suffer the stigma of popularity. So it is with Nicole Miller, whose cartoony cute prints have shown up on ties and cummerbunds at every country club holiday blowout across these United States.
This season, she made a self-conscious effort to go easy on the flower and herb prints and concentrate on spring greens. The garden salad she produced was a tossed-together show of too many greens and not enough seasoning.
There were good flippy skirts, some sparkling sheaths with matching coats, easy pantsuits and floaty organzas. All right there on top of the new direction, but some spark was missing.
The designer is now concentrating on having a baby, we hope she regains some of the sizzle after the baby arrives.
Sun Fashion editor Vida Roberts' rundown on the runways